According to 18th-century poet Alexander Pope, “to err is human.” As humans, no one is perfect, and mistakes happen. This is true no matter what the circumstances, and in the workplace, mistakes can be costly.
The good news is that even if the work injury was your fault, you are still eligible for worker’s compensation in Virginia.
In this article, we’ll explain why as well as cover some exceptions that could prohibit eligibility.
Worker’s Compensation is a No-Fault System
No matter what state you live in, workers comp is considered a no-fault system. This means that it doesn’t matter if the accident that caused your injury was your fault, a co-worker’s fault, or no one’s fault. Even if your behavior was “negligent,” you can still be compensated for your claim.
This approach makes sense because some professions present danger and risk daily. Construction, manufacturing, and warehouse employees are put in risky situations daily. It’s impossible to exercise perfect judgment every time.
If an employee has to continually worry that an honest mistake can preclude benefits to cover lost wages and medical care, it would result in an inherently unfair workplace environment.
Exceptions that Could Compromise a Workers Compensation Claim
If claims investigators determine that you engaged in “willful misconduct,” your worker’s comp claim could be denied. Willful misconduct, sometimes referred to as willful intent, means that you knew what you were doing was wrong, but you did it anyway. The action you took was deliberate, and it was the direct cause of your injury.
Examples of willful misconduct include:
– Self-inflicted injuries
– Being intoxicated on the job (drugs or alcohol)
– A violation of a company’s policy that you were aware of (such as failing to wear appropriate safety gear)
– Breaking a law
Even if your conduct fits into one of the categories above, you may still have a case. A worker’s compensation attorney can work with you to evaluate the facts and determine if there is a legitimate reason for the misconduct. For example, if a company policy is vague and doesn’t specify the safety gear or equipment you are required to use, then your failure to use the right equipment or wear the right gear may be excused.
Another situation that could still allow you to recover despite misconduct has to do with alcohol. For example, let’s say you had been drinking on the job and sustained an injury. You could potentially argue that the intoxication was not related to your injury. This argument is difficult to prove, but it is not impossible.
For example, if you were walking across the factory floor and you were authorized to be in that area, an object falling on your head and injuring you could have also happened to someone else. This scenario illustrates a situation where intoxication was not the cause of the accident.
Discuss Your Workers Compensation Case
If you’re looking for a worker’s compensation lawyer, Virginia-based Geoff McDonald & Associates is here to help. Over the past 20 years, we’ve successfully recovered over $400 million for injury victims. Put our experience to work for you and contact us for a free consultation.